(אני מאמין) "I believe" is a prosaic rendition of Maimonides
' thirteen-point version of the Jewish principles of faith
. It is based on his Mishnah
commentary to tractate Sanhedrin
. The popular version of Ani Ma'amin
is of a later date and has some significant differences with Maimonides' original version. It is of unknown authorship. Both Ani Ma'amin
and a poetic version, Yigdal
, form part of the prayers of Jews and have inspired varied settings to music.
The recitation consists of thirteen lines, each beginning with the phrase "Ani ma'amin be-emunah shelemah
" ("I believe with perfect faith"). It follows the same order as Maimonides' enumeration.
Many Jews recite Ani Ma'amin at the conclusion of their morning prayers
. The poetic version Yigdal
is more commonly recited at the beginning of the prayers. In some communities Yigdal
is also recited on the Shabbat
after the evening service.
The penultimate line refers to the essential Jewish belief in the coming of the Mashiach
. As such, this line has become a popular source of lyrics for Jewish songs.
The original version of the tune is attributed to the Modzits Hasidim, who reportedly sang the song as they were herded into the gas chambers of the Nazi concentration camps. The song was then adopted by other Jewish prisoners and became known as the Hymn of the Camps. It is still frequently sung at Holocaust Remembrance Day services. Some also sang it at the Passover seder, in memory of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which began on the first night of Passover in 1943.
Ani Ma'amin is also used as a positive song included at happy events, mainly weddings. The words are the same, but a much happier tune is used. The popular Chabad-Lubavitch singer Avraham Fried has recorded a version of this song that has gained popularity, reflecting the Chabad-Lubavitch's emphasis on the imminent coming of the Messiah.
Ani Ma'amin was sung by the choir during Pope John Paul II's historic visit to the Synagogue of Rome on April 13, 1986.